National education as a ‘civics’ literacy in a globalized world: The challenges facing education in Singapore

Rossi, Tony & Ryan, Mary E. (2006) National education as a ‘civics’ literacy in a globalized world: The challenges facing education in Singapore. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 27(2), pp. 161-174.

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The leadership in many countries around the world has decided that within their education systems, a 'National Education' agenda should be promoted (Osler and Vincent, 2002). This appears to have a multiple agenda – it serves as a form of 'civics education' whereby the constitutional role of government is discussed and the sense of 'civic responsibility' promoted, but in fairly general terms. Other agendas seem to be to do with inculcating a sense of National Identity and a sense of 'citizenship' which has to do with pride in nation-state, commitment to the national cause, and developing a general sense of patriotism belonging (see Davidson, 1994) and national unity across within-border cultures. From time to time, this can degenerate into a level of flag waving that Billig (1996) has labled 'Banal Nationalism'. What most of these agendas seem to be built upon is an unproblematic notion of identity and the belief that there is either or can only be one identity even though the academic literature is replete with arguments against this tide (see Davidson, 1994; Dudley, Robison and Taylor, 1999). Hence contemporary research in sociology and social psychology seems to suggest that this is a flawed assumption. This is so because no matter how protective and paternalistic governments try to be, the power of globalisation to transcend national boundaries means that most citizens of most developed nations are global citizens and this especially applies to the younger members of communities who are adept in the uses of techno and cyber literacies which give them unparalleled access to other words (Luke and Luke, 2001). So not only are they subject to the vagaries of globalized finance markets and the degree of free trade making all types of consumer products available – what Habermas (1985) calls the colonization of the lifeworld, they are also subject to the globalizing effects of popular culture, which is easily available through large multi-media transnational companies. For the most part this popular culture is of western, mostly American origin. What this means then is that through the power of electronic media, most young people throughout the developed world are global citizens, and don’t think for one minute that the young people on this planet are duped into this … they invest, very heavily, in popular culture and no matter where they are embrace it wholeheartedly (Luke, 1997). This means that, as Luke (2002) has said, the master pedagogues are no longer teachers in schools but the likes of Disney, Nokia, Microsoft, CNN, MTV. The question facing Singapore is how can teachers and how can teacher education make National Education – the Singaporean versin of civics education relevant to young people in schools in what Giddens (2000) argues is an increasingly globalized world which is clearly populated by globalized identities?

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ID Code: 2545
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: national education, civics literacy, multiliteracies, globalisation
DOI: 10.1080/01596300600676110
ISSN: 1469-3739
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > SOCIOLOGY (160800) > Sociology of Education (160809)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Past > Schools > School of Cultural & Language Studies in Education
Current > Schools > School of Exercise & Nutrition Sciences
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2006 Taylor & Francis
Copyright Statement: First published in Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education 27(2):pp. 161-174.
Deposited On: 09 Dec 2005 00:00
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2016 23:48

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